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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

4.6 229
by Fannie Flagg

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She’s one of America’s fairest and funniest ladies. Actress and screenwriter, director and comedienne, Fannie Flagg is also a most accomplished and high-spirited author. Said Kirkus of her first book, Coming Attractions: “It’s subtitled ‘A wonderful novel’ and that’s exactly what it is.” Here is her second.


She’s one of America’s fairest and funniest ladies. Actress and screenwriter, director and comedienne, Fannie Flagg is also a most accomplished and high-spirited author. Said Kirkus of her first book, Coming Attractions: “It’s subtitled ‘A wonderful novel’ and that’s exactly what it is.” Here is her second. Get ready, because it’s going to make you laugh (a lot), cry (a little), and care (forever).

What is it? It’s first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women—of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.

And as the past unfolds, the present—for Evelyn and for us—will never quite be the same.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, with humor and drama—and with an ending that would fill with smiling tears the Whistle Stop Lake...if they only had a lake....

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
A real novel and a good one...[from] the busy brain of a born storyteller.
Los Angeles Times
It's very good; in fact, just wonderful.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Cleo Threadgood and Evelyn Couch meet in the visitors lounge of an Alabama nursing home, they find themselves exchanging the sort of confidences that are sometimes only safe to reveal to strangers. At 48, Evelyn is falling apart: none of the middle-class values she grew up with seem to signify in today's world. On the other hand, 86-year-old Cleo is still being nurtured by memories of a lifetime spent in Whistle Stop, a pocket-sized town outside of Birmingham, which flourished in the days of the Great Depression. Most of the town's life centered around its one cafe, whose owners, gentle Ruth and tomboyish Idgie, served up grits (both true and hominy) to anyone who passed by. How their love for each other and just about everyone else survived visits from the sheriff, the Ku Klux Klan, a host of hungry hoboes, a murder and the rigors of the Depression makes lively reading -- the kind that eventually nourishes Evelyn and the reader as well. Though Flagg's characters tend to be sweet as candied yams or mean clear through, she manages to infuse their story with enough tartness to avoid sentimentality. Admirers of the wise child in Flagg's first novel, Coming Attractions, will find her grown-up successor, Idgie, equally appealing. The book's best character, perhaps, is the town of Whistle Stop itself. Too bad the trains don't stop there anymore.
From the Publisher
"The people in Miss Flagg's book are as real as the people in books can be. If you put an ear to the pages, you can almost hear the characters speak. The writer's imaginative skill transforms simple, everyday events into complex happenings that take on universal meanings."

Chattanooga Times

"This whole literary enterprise shines with honesty, gallantry, and love of perfect details that might otherwise be forgotten."

Los Angeles Times

"A sparkling gem."

Birmingham News

"Watch out for Fannie Flagg. When I walked into the Whistle Stop Cafe she fractured my funny bone, drained my tear ducts, and stole my heart."

Florence King, Author of Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady

"Admirers of the wise child in Flagg's first novel, Coming Attractions,
will find her grown-up successor, Idgie, equally appealing. The book's best character, perhaps, is the town of Whistle Stop itself—too bad trains don't stop there anymore."

Publisher's Weekly

Library Journal
As she listens to nursing home resident Ninnie Threadgoode tell stories of Whistle Stop, AL, in the 1930s, Evelyn decides to make positive life changes that lift her out of a midlife crisis. VERDICT Though this story of small-town characters may appear quaint, it packs great emotional punch, fearlessly touching on issues ranging from racism to depression. The storytelling never wavers, and bittersweet events are laced with gentle humor. A modern novel with the feel of a classic.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt



June 12, 1929

Cafe Opens

The Whistle Stop Cafe opened up last week, right next
door to me at the post office, and owners Idgie
Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison said business has been
good ever since. Idgie says that for people who know
her not to worry about getting poisoned, she is not
cooking. All the cooking is being done by two colored
women, Sipsey and Onzell, and the barbecue is being
cooked by Big George, who is Onzell's husband.

If there is anybody that has not been there yet, Idgie
says that the breakfast hours are from 5:30-7:30, and you
can get eggs, grits, biscuits, bacon, sausage, ham and
red-eye gravy, and coffee for 25 [cts.].

For lunch and supper you can have: fried chicken;
pork chops and gravy; catfish; chicken and dumplings;
or a barbecue plate; and your choice of three
vegetables, biscuits or cornbread, and your drink and
dessert—for 35 [cts.].

She said the vegetables are: creamed corn; fried green
tomatoes; fried okra; collard or turnip greens; black-eyed
peas; candied yams; butter beans or lima beans.

And pie for dessert.

My other half, Wilbur, and I ate there the other night,
and it was so good he says he might not ever eat at home
again. Ha. Ha. I wish this were true. I spend all my time
cooking for the big lug, and still can't keep him filled

By the way, Idgie says that one of her hens laid an egg
with a ten-dollar bill in it.

... Dot Weems ...




DECEMBER 15, 1985

Evelyn Couch had come to Rose Terrace with her husband, Ed,
who was visiting his mother, Big Momma, a recent but reluctant
arrival. Evelyn had just escaped them both and had gone into the
visitors' lounge in the back, where she could enjoy her candy bar in
peace and quiet. But the moment she sat down, the old woman
beside her began to talk ...

"Now, you ask me the year somebody got married ... who they
married ... or what the bride's mother wore, and nine times out of ten
I can tell you, but for the life of me, I cain't tell you when it was I
got to be so old. It just sorta slipped up on me. The first time I
noticed it was June of this year, when I was in the hospital for my
gallbladder, which they still have, or maybe they threw it out by
now ... who knows. That heavyset nurse had just given me another
one of those Fleet enemas they're so fond of over there when I
noticed what they had on my arm. It was a white band that said:
Mrs. Cleo Threadgoode ... an eighty-six-year-old woman.
Imagine that!

"When I got back home, I told my friend Mrs. Otis, I guess the
only thing left for us to do is to sit around and get ready to croak....
She said she preferred the term pass over to the
other side. Poor thing, I didn't have the heart to tell her that no
matter what you call it, we're all gonna croak, just the same ...

"It's funny, when you're a child you think time will never go by,
but when you hit about twenty, time passes like you're on the fast
train to Memphis. I guess life just slips up on everybody. It sure
did on me. One day I was a little girl and the next I was a grown
woman, with bosoms and hair on my private parts. I missed the
whole thing. But then, I never was too smart in school or otherwise ...

"Mrs. Otis and I are from Whistle Stop, a little town about ten
miles from here, out by the railroad yards.... She's lived down the
street from me for the past thirty years or so, and after her husband
died, her son and daughter-in-law had a fit for her to come and live
at the nursing home, and they asked me to come with her. I told
them I'd stay with her for a while—she doesn't know it yet, but I'm
going back home just as soon as she gets settled in good.

"It's not too bad out here. The other day, we all got Christmas
corsages to wear on our coats. Mine had little shiny red Christmas
balls on it, and Mrs. Otis had a Santy Claus face on hers. But I was
sad to give up my kitty, though.

"They won't let you have one here, and I miss her. I've always
had a kitty or two, my whole life. I gave her to that little girl next
door, the one who's been watering my geraniums. I've got me four
cement pots on the front porch, just full of geraniums.

"My friend Mrs. Otis is only seventy-eight and real sweet, but
she's a nervous kind of person. I had my gallstones in a Mason jar
by my bed, and she made me hide them. Said they made her
depressed. Mrs. Otis is just a little bit of somethin', but as you can
see, I'm a big woman. Big bones and all.

"But I never drove a car ... I've been stranded most all my life.
Always stayed close to home. Always had to wait for somebody to
come and carry me to the store or to the doctor or down to the
church. Years ago, you used to be able to take a trolley to
Birmingham, but they stopped running a long time
ago. The only thing I'd do different if I could go back would be to
get myself a driver's license.

"You know, it's funny what you'll miss when you're away from
home. Now me, I miss the smell of coffee ... and bacon frying in the
morning. You cain't smell anything they've got cooking out here,
and you cain't get a thing that's fried. Everything here is boiled up,
with not a piece of salt on it! I wouldn't give you a plugged nickel
for anything boiled, would you?"

The old lady didn't wait for an answer ".... I used to love
my crackers and buttermilk, or my buttermilk and cornbread,
in the afternoon. I like to smash it all up in my glass and eat
it with a spoon, but you cain't eat in public like you can at home
... can you? ... And I miss wood.

"My house is nothing but just a little old railroad shack of a
house, with a living room, bedroom, and a kitchen. But it's wood,
with pine walls inside. Just what I like. I don't like a plaster wall.
They seem ... oh, I don't know, kinda cold and stark-like.

"I brought a picture with me that I had at home, of a girl in a
swing with a castle and pretty blue bubbles in the background, to
hang in my room, but that nurse here said the girl was naked from
the waist up and not appropriate. You know, I've had that picture
for fifty years and I never knew she was naked. If you ask me, I
don't think the old men they've got here can see well enough to
notice that she's bare-breasted. But, this is a Methodist home, so
she's in the closet with my gallstones.

"I'll be glad to get home.... Of course, my house is a mess. I
haven't been able to sweep for a while. I went out and threw my
broom at some old, noisy bluejays that were fighting and, wouldn't
you know it, my broom stuck up there in the tree. I've got to get
someone to get it down for me when I get back.

"Anyway, the other night, when Mrs. Otis's son took us home
from the Christmas tea they had at the church, he drove us over the
railroad tracks, out by where the cafe used to be, and on up First
Street, right past the old Threadgoode place. Of course, most of the
house is all boarded up and falling down now, but when we came
down the street, the headlights hit the
windows in such a way that, just for a minute, that house looked to
me just like it had so many of those nights, some seventy years
ago, all lit up and full of fun and noise. I could hear people
laughing, and Essie Rue pounding away at the piano in the parlor;
`Buffalo Gal, Won't You Come Out Tonight' or `The Big Rock Candy
Mountain,' and I could almost see Idgie Threadgoode sitting in the
chinaberry tree, howling like a dog every time Essie Rue tried to
sing. She always said that Essie Rue could sing about as well as a
cow could dance. I guess, driving by that house and me being so
homesick made me go back in my mind ...

"I remember it just like it was yesterday, but then I don't think
there's anything about the Threadgoode family I don't remember.
Good Lord, I should, I've lived right next door to them from the day
I was born, and I married one of the boys.

"There were nine children, and three of the girls, Essie Rue and
the twins, were more or less my own age, so I was always over
there playing and having spend-the-night parties. My own mother
died of consumption when I was four, and when my daddy died, up
in Nashville, I just stayed on for good. I guess you might say the
spend-the-night party never ended..."

From the Trade Paperback edition.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
—The New York Times

—Los Angeles Times

—Houston Chronicle

Meet the Author

Fannie Flagg began writing and producing television specials at age nineteen and went on to distinguish herself as an actress and a writer in television, films, and the theater. Her first novel, Daisy Fay and The
Miracle Man
, spent ten weeks on the New York Times paperback bestseller list, and her second novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the
Whistle Stop Cafe
, was on the same list for thirty-six weeks. It was produced by Universal Pictures as the feature film Fried Green
Tomatoes. Flagg's script was nominated for both the Writers Guild of
America and an Academy Award, and it won the highly regarded
Scripters Award. Flagg narrated both novels on audiocassette and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word.

Her latest novel is titled Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! She lives in California and Alabama.

Brief Biography

Montecito, California
Date of Birth:
September 21, 1944
Place of Birth:
Birmingham, Alabama
The University of Alabama

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 230 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a fanatic of Fried Green Tomatoes. So, of course, I had to have the audio book, read by the author herself, Fannie Flagg. And she does not disappoint. Her southern drawl is cute and she knows how to act the lines (she was involved in the theater before jumping into writing).
Although...for all those who know the movie and the book like the palm of their hand, a word of caution: you'll miss the actresses's voices (in the case of the movie) and many of the delicious details of the book that were left behind in this abridged version (like the catfish joke Idgie and Stump played on unsuspecting visitors and when Idgie first met Ruth and when Ruth went away). I think it's because reading verbatim from the book would've made it too long, but I still resent that they left so much out.
This audio book is really for the hardcore fans. Anyone else will tire of it. But Fannie Flagg is delightful and it gives this CD that extra something when you know the woman who cooked this story up is telling you the story from her own lips.
Buy this if you fell in love with Ruth and Idgie and Ninny and Evelyn. It'll add to the collection you probably already have revolving around Fried Green Tomatoes. I love the sotries that stick with you the rest of your life. My recommendations are exactly that.
Darsey_spudnick More than 1 year ago
Evelyn Couch is having a midlife crisis. She was brought up to be a "good girl" and do everything she was "supposed" to do, which was to marry a good man and become a wife and mother. She did, but now that her children are grown and out of the house, Evelyn is feeling that life has passed her by. She is realizing that the current world is so very different from the one she grew up in and she does not know how to cope. On top of that, she realizes that her relationship with her husband is drifting farther and farther apart. Many days, she sits at home alone, overeating and wishing for the courage to end her life. Things begin to change when she meets Cleo Threadgood, a resident at a local Alabama nursing home. Cleo regales Evelyn with stories of her family and friends, growing up in a small town named Whistle Stop, Alabama. Through these stories and numerous visits with Cleo, Evelyn begins to reevaluate her life and discover for the first time, the kind of woman that she wants to become. This is my favorite book. I suppose it resonated so well with me because I read it for the first time when I was in college, trying to figure out who I was, much like Ruth. There are strong themes of hope, resilience, perseverance, and change, in this story. I never get tired of reading this book because the author writes with such passion and poignancy that it draws me in every time. As stated earlier, these characters feel like friends who I want to visit over and over.
weeklyreader51 More than 1 year ago
The big surprise (to me) was how accurately the movie follows the book. Obviously there is much more detail, but unlike many book-based movies, this one is astonishingly true to the book. The movie did not cover the Whistle Stop weekly news bites, and the ending is a little different than the movie (I can see why they did what they did though). Deep south recipes are included (yes, fried green tomatoes too).
books-rock1 More than 1 year ago
This is my favortie book! My favorite book is Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Outsiders! I LOVE THIS BOOK! Best book I've EVER READ IN MY LIFE. I LOVE THE MOVIE TOO. Please read this book. It is soo good and SOO worth the money.(: I wish I could give it 100000000 stars!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jackson McCrae's southern book 'Bark of the Dogwood' set me off on a journey to read more about this wonderful story-telling-prone area. Thus I found Mrs. Flagg's 'Fried Green Tomatoes.' A superb book, this is a perfect story with tugs at the heartstrings and drama.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read about 3 books a week and this is still my all-time fave by far.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, along with the books 'Certain Girls' and 'Barring Some Unforeseen Accident' are some of my favorites. FGT as it is loving known to most of us, is posibly the best Southern book written (modern book). And it's one of the few that was made into a fantastic movie. The story of friendship, southern culture, and love will warm your heart and make you laugh
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to any one of any age. The book is well written with mystery, humor, culture and intrigue. I just love the characters. Ruth and Idgie are just so cute and endearing. The author is masterful at pulling you into this little town of heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Saw the movie long ago Finished the book just the other day So very fond of FF way with words Became a fan when first reading her Can't Wait To Get To Heaven Learned then & there I would read everything I could find that she Authored!!! Enjoyed the ending of the movie more so then the books' ending needless to say as to why No one wants to lose a new found frienship so soon after this bond was formed And unless I am mistaken, I so much more enjoyed the little twist at the end of the movie in which Evelyn is heartened to learn she has Idgie beside her as a matter of fact!!! The one and only Bee Charmer Herself & life goes on with them together!!! The entire book is simply GREAT!!! Simply happier with movies' ending. FBLBGBarone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love books better but the movie was awesome loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even better than the book! You woyld love it and it is even easier to follow.
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The love these two women share is beyond compare. An absolutly beautifully written book that holds so much with every passing page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For once i must say i liked the movie better
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Love this book. Love these characters.
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I love this book! I've seen the movie several times and, although I love it, always felt like it was leaving things out. The movie, for sake of acceptable watch time and not having to find actors to portray the characters throughout their long lives cataloged in the book. The vivid, delightful, depressing, and amazing world depicted by Fannie Flagg almost makes me wish I had grown up in a small Alabama town during the Depression. Just the right mix of humor, drama, and emotion to make a truly great and forever re-readable novel.
jaysueread More than 1 year ago
Great book
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